Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rammed Earth Education at Phinney Neighborhood Center

Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is hosting a presentation on rammed earth construction at their October meeting at Phinney Neighborhood Center.  From their newsletter:
Meror Krayenhoff will present Rammed Earth V3.0, Transformation to a resilient, high performance wall system
  • Introduce and provide history on Rammed Earth that has been used in construction for centuries.
  • Explain that most of the myths about constraints and flaws are characteristics of rammed earth V1.0 and introduce V3.0 as the state of the art rammed earth system.
  • Show how there is not yet a common language when building with earth or any shared standards across the industry.
  • Present that wide adoption of rammed earth is feasible today, but will depend on how modern applications are constructed in different climates.

Where: Phinney Neighborhood Center Lower Building Basement, 6532 Phinney Ave N, Seattle, WA 98103 When: October 24th, 2012, 7:00 - 9:00 PM
The presentation is open to the general public. Free for members and $10 suggested donation for non-members. This presentation is likely oriented towards residential construction.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Seattle's LEED and Built Green Portfolio Analysis

From the Seattle Department of Planning and Development blog, Building Connections:
The Office of Sustainability and Environment has recently completed an analysis of LEED and Built Green projects certified in Seattle through 2011. . . .The reports identify the most commonly implemented sustainable design strategies and calculate the anticipated savings in energy, water and waste for these projects.  For instance, energy reductions for Seattle’s Built Green projects are expected to save a total of 6,646.8 MBTU (million British Thermal Unit) per year.  
See the their blog post for their link to the reports.  Some tidbits:
  • Of the 102 LEED certified buildings in Seattle, 29 are commercial interior projects, while the other 77 are new construction.
  • 47 of the projects got the most common rating, LEED Gold.  Only 4 got LEED Platinum.
  • 98 projects achieved the MRc2 credit, which diverts construction and demolition debris from disposal through recycling or salvage. 90% of the construction waste, or 174,000 tons, was diverted.
  • 94 projects achieved the MRc4 credit for recycled content. The most common products recycled in new construction projects were metals, concrete, and gypsum. Total value of recycled content materials was $131,490,900.
  • MRc5, Regional Materials, was also very commonly achieved.
  • The least common Materials Resource credits pursued or achieved were MRc1, Building Reuse, MRc3, Materials Reuse, and MRc6, Rapidly Renewable Materials.  Less than 10% of projects achieved these credits.
Since some credits are clearly more easily achievable or more preferable than others, is LEED making a big change to structural engineering?  Will the proposed credits in LEED v4, open for public comment, make a bigger difference?

October Committee Meeting

This month's meeting will be Wednesday, October 24, at noon at Degenkolb Engineers, 600 University Street (One Union Square), Suite 720, Seattle

The meeting will consist of two presentations:
Adam Slivers - Life Cycle Assessment with Athena Impact Estimator
Matthew Comber - Degenkolb's EnvISA software; used to estimate and mitigate carbon dioxide impact from disasters

Hope to see you there!

Concrete Industry Group Adopts the 2030 Challenge for Products Embraces a Low Carbon Future

From the Architecture 2030 press release:
October 4, 2012 – In an effort to help concrete producers reduce their carbon footprint, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) – a non-profit representing the producers of ready mixed concrete – today announced that it has signed on to the 2030 Challenge for Products.
NRMCA's goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of concrete by 50% by 2030, as the 2030 Challenge for Products is stated. They aim to achieve this by development and verification of Environmental Product Declarations and furthering research and education.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

LEED v4 public comment period is open

USGBC is allowing a fifth round of public comment on LEED v4, which is scheduled for release next year. Public comment period is from October 2 - December 10, though only 1/4 of the credits and prerequisites are up for comment.

Here are the proposed credits for new construction: https://new.usgbc.org/credits/new-construction/v4-draft

To comment you or your organization must be a member of USGBC. Comments appear to be entered online (must be logged in), like comments to a blog would be posted. From the USGBC:
There are two ways to submit a comment for fifth public comment: our new LEED credit library or LEEDuser discussion forums.
  • Each respondent may submit only one set of comments on any individual credit.
  • Comments may not be edited once submitted.
  • Representatives of USGBC member and non-member organizations are encouraged to submit comments collectively.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SEAoNC Sustainability Blog

Just in case you can't get enough posts on sustainability in structural engineering from this blog, the Sustainable Design Committee of the Structural Engineer's Association of Northern California has a blog too!  In addition to sustainability news, there are other topics to filter through.

Mercury in Fly Ash - Hazardous in Concrete?

From Structural Engineer magazine:
For years structural engineers have incorporated fly ash into their concrete mix designs to produce high quality concrete, and its use as a cement replacement is increasing as engineers seek to reduce CO2 emissions. Questions have arisen recently over the appropriateness of incorporating fly ash into concrete due to concerns about the trace amounts of mercury found in the byproduct of coal combustion. Just as structural engineers were feeling that they were part of the solution to reduce CO2 emissions a monkey wrench was thrown into the works. This article hopes to answer some of the concerns regarding using fly ash in concrete.

Foundation Wall Insulation Details

A recent article by Jim D'Aloisio in Structural Engineer magazine highlights the "ins and outs" of continuous insulation on foundation walls.  Jim is chair of SEI Sustainability Committee's Thermal Bridging Working Group.

This is of significance to structural engineers in Washington because the 2009 Washington State Energy Code dictates the prescriptive details of insulation at foundation walls:

From a chapter relating to the "Washington State Single-Family Residential Energy Code"
502.1.4.8 Slab-On-Grade: Slab-on-grade insulation shall be placed on the outside of the foundation or on the inside of the foundation wall. The insulation shall extend downward from the top of the slab for a minimum distance of 24 inches or downward to at least the bottom of the slab and then horizontally to the interior or exterior for the total distance of 24 inches. Above grade insulation shall be protected. A 2-inch by 2-inch (maximum) nailer may be placed at the finished floor elevation for attachment of interior finish materials.
From a chapter relating to the "Washington State Nonresidential Energy Code"
1311.5 Slab-On-Grade Floor: Slab-on-grade insulation installed inside the foundation wall shall extend downward from the top of the slab a minimum distance of twenty-four inches or to the top of the footing, whichever is less. Insulation installed outside the foundation shall extend downward a minimum of twenty-four inches or to the frostline, whichever is greater. Above grade insulation shall be protected.

EXCEPTION: For monolithic slabs, the insulation shall extend downward from the top of the slab to the bottom of the footing.
What does this mean for below-grade walls that require a firm, monolithic slab to resist lateral earth pressures?  Perhaps a lot of back-and-forth in future project meetings.

Living Building Pilot Program Adopted by Council

From Seattle DPD's Building Connections blog:
Living Building Pilot Program Adopted by Council

On July 30, the City Council adopted Council Bill 117516that amends the Land Use Code to allow more flexibility in applying land use standards for projects qualifying for the Living Building and Seattle Deep Green Pilot Programs.

Third-party certification of structural materials

The SEA of Northern California's Sustainable Design Committee wrote a paper "Establishing Third-Party Certification for Sustainable Building Materials" submitted to the SEAOC 2011 Convention Proceedings. Click here.

In case you don't want to read the whole report, the committee’s paper was submitted as an article to Structural Engineering magazine and is available here at gostructural.com.

The committee is going to push for getting material certification for concrete and steel into CalGreen.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Athena's Impact Estimator software is now free

Athena Sustainable Materials Institute makes a few pieces of software that can be used to calculate a building's environmental impacts using life cycle assessment.  The newest version of their most robust software, Impact Estimator, is now free.  Other updates, such as incorporation of composite steel framing assemblies, is now included to better estimate quantities using conceptual or schematic design information. Although Impact Estimator can quantify impacts from building operation and architectural elements, it can help structural engineers quantify impacts from steel, concrete and wood structural materials.